Heritage Trails - Boulder Trackways and Stone Bridges
When you have been out walking or running in Hong Kong's rural areas and country parks, you will probably have found yourself on a path made out of boulders laid closely together without any cement or concrete. These are what remain of a network of ancient roads and paths and their associated bridges linking the major townships and villages with each other and inter-linking ferry routes.
They are difficult to date but are probably centuries old and have survived because they were so sensibly and practically constructed. The Hong Kong Archaeological Society Survey of 1982 to 1985 identified nine boulder trackways in particular:
Three of these are to be found, at least in part, within the boundaries of Sai Kung District:
- Ho Chung to Customs Pass Trackway (2Km)
- Pak Kong to Mui Tsz Lam Trackway (1.5Km)
- Shui Ngau Shan Trackway (1Km)
You can now explore these boulder trackways thanks to the efforts of Guy Shirra, who is documenting them in a series of guides. His guides are available here:
- The old main road from Tai Wai, Shatin to Sai Kung
- The old main road from Siu Lek Yuen, Shatin to Ho Chung, Sai Kung
The network of traditional paved roads provides important evidence as to how and by what routes Hong Kong's early villages and market towns were interconnected before the development of the modern road and rail system.
They offer a unique insight into a traditional world, whose patterns of communication, following the easiest natural routes, were quite different to what they are today.
The scale of this system of paved trackways, the skill with which the tracks were constructed and the effort needed in the quarrying and transporting of material and in their maintenance, provide eloquent testimony to the socio-economic and administrative institutions of the times.
No firm evidence to date these tracks has been located, but some may conceivably be of very considerable antiquity.
Their significance is greatly enhanced because they are eminently visible and readily appreciated monuments to the Territory's past in a landscape relatively impoverished of similar historical features.
Guy Shirra, Sai Kung